When St. Lucie Public Schools was awarded the Magnet School Assistance Program Grant in 2017, the district was able to revitalize three schools within the school district: Creative Arts Academy, Samuel Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies and Fort Pierce Westwood Academy: The WEST Prep Magnet. Part of this revitalization was to discover and build unique programs of interest that would gain the attention of students throughout the school district.

St. Lucie Public Schools began exploring the possibility of building an esports program at Fort Pierce Westwood Academy, its new magnet high school, in the spring of 2019. The district team met with various companies attempting to launch esports initiatives throughout the country, however those partners did not seem to have the vision that St. Lucie was looking for.

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In April 2019, the magnet team participated in the Southeast STEM Ecosystem Convening was introduced to the founder of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), and the vision for esports in the district came to life.

Many of the programs the team reviewed previously were focused on “gaming just for gaming,” but the magnet team realized the uniqueness of the NASEF program. It focused on students’ academic achievement, in addition to providing a career-focused platform that was a game changer for the vision of the program. At that point, the district’s esports initiative was off and running.

About the Author:

Jane Whitaker is the Magnet School Coordinator at St. Lucie Public Schools Office of Teaching & Learning in Port St. Lucie, Florida.